US ambassador to Libya killed in Benghazi attack
Cairo/Washington: US ambassador to Libya and three other embassy staff were killed as a mob armed with guns and rockets stormed the American consulate in the eastern Libyan city of Benghazi, angry over a film deemed offensive to
Christopher Stevens and three consulate staff were killed when the envoy went to the consulate as a frenzied mob stormed the premises and ran over the facility setting it ablaze, Libyan and US officials said.
The attack on the consulate came hours after protesters attacked the US Embassy in Cairo, tearing down the Star and Stripes and hoisting a black one that read, “There is no God but Allah and Mohammad is his messenger.”
Media reports warned of more such protests erupting in Egypt as the ruling Muslim Brotherhood called for a nationwide protest against the film ridiculing Prophet Mohammad.
Describing the attack as “outrageous”, President Barack Obama ordered stepping up of security in US diplomatic posts all over the globe.
“I strongly condemn the outrageous attack on our diplomatic facility in Benghazi, which took the lives of four Americans, including Ambassador Chris Stevens,” Obama said in a statement released by the White House in the first official confirmation about the death of the Ambassador in Libya.
“I have directed my Administration to provide all necessary resources to support the security of our personnel in Libya, and to increase security at our diplomatic posts around the globe,” he added.
Stevens was a career diplomat who spoke Arabic and French and had served two terms in Libya, including running the Benghazi office during the revolt against Muammar Gaddafi.
Libyan officials said Stevens was killed when he went to the consulate to evacuate the staff besieged by the frenzied mob.
Though, US officials did not give the cause of the death of the Ambassador, pan-Arabic news channel Al-Jazeera quoted Libyan Interior Ministry as saying that Stevens died of suffocation along with two US security guards who were accompanying him.
It said another consulate employee, whose nationality could not immediately be confirmed, was also killed.
Reports said hundreds of angry protesters brandishing assault weapons fired gunshots and attacked the US consulate with rocket propelled grenades in Benghazi as they clashed with the Libyan guards.
These were the first such assaults on US diplomatic facilities in Libya and Egypt, and came at a time when both nations are in turmoil following the ouster of their longtime leaders Gaddafi and Hosni Mubarak.
Condemning the outrage, US Secretary of State Hillary Clinton said she was heartbroken over the attacks and confirmed that a US diplomat was killed.
“As we work to secure our personnel and facilities, we have confirmed that one of our State Department officers was killed. We are heartbroken by this terrible loss. Our thoughts and prayers are with his family and those who have suffered in this attack,” Clinton said in a statement.
“In light of the events of today, the United States government is working with partner countries around the world to protect our personnel, our missions, and American citizens worldwide,” she added. Clinton called Libyan President to coordinate additional support to protect Americans in Libya.
The controversial film was produced by Israeli-American Sam Bacile. However, the Egyptian media reported that it was made by some Egyptian Copts living in the US.